As has been the case almost every offseason since he arrived in Oakland, Derek Carr has had to deal with widespread speculation about his future as the team's starting quarterback.
With the Raiders leaving the East Bay for the bright lights of Las Vegas, many have wondered if head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock might look to make a splash at quarterback this offseason, either in free agency or the 2020 NFL Draft.
Mayock addressed Carr's status Tuesday at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, preaching his "evaluate everyone approach" while simultaneously lauding Carr.
"The bottom line is this, I think everybody needs to understand at what level Derek Carr played last year, OK?" Mayock said. "The guy completed 70 percent of his passes. He had almost a three-to-one touchdown to interception ratio. I think we were No. 11 in the league in total yards, we were seventh in third-down conversions. We did a lot of really good things on offense last year. The disconnect was we didn't score a lot of points. You're 11th in yards, but you're 24 in points. There's an issue.
"It's defense. It's special teams. It's not scoring in the red zone. It's not scoring in goal to go, OK? To me, those are the issues. Derek Carr played at a high level. I'm very happy with Derek Carr. What I've told everybody I've been in touch with since the day I took this job is we're going to evaluate every position, every year. And if we can get better, we will. Guys get tired of me saying that but that's really what I told Mark Davis before I took the job and that's my mantra."
Rumors have linked the Raiders to soon-to-be-free-agent quarterback Tom Brady. Brady, who will be 43 years old when the 2020 season begins, still has plenty of game left and would bring the pizzazz needed for Vegas' NFL franchise. While signing Brady might not make a lot of sense on the surface, if the Raiders were to agree to accelerate their rebuild to accommodate Brady's desire to win another Super Bowl before hanging it up, then the marriage could work.
Mayock wasn't biting on the Brady questions Tuesday.
"I don't make anything of any rumors," Mayock said. "All I can tell you about free agency -- because I'm not allowed to talk about any of them anyway -- is I have watched tape of just about every guy out there at every position. All that does is uphold what I am telling you that every position gets evaluated every year and if we can upgrade it we will."
Aside from the Brady rumors, the Raiders also have two first-round draft picks in a class with three stud signal-callers. While LSU's Joe Burrow will be off the board at No. 1, Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa and Oregon's Justin Herbert also have the desired skills to be franchise signal-callers. The Raiders would have to trade up to select one of them, though, and that's something they should avoid based on the number of needs the team has.
While Mayock and Gruden will look to evaluate and improve each position if they can, the smart money is on Carr taking the first snap in Las Vegas for the Raiders next season.
He showed great improvement in Year 2 of Gruden's system, and if the Silver and Black can improve the receiving corps, then Carr should be in line to expand upon his success with Gruden next season.